Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fidel Castro Speaks on Edward Snowden Affair

Fidel Castro speaks on Snowden

August 29, 2013

HAVANA. — Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, has denied Russian media reports that US fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden stayed in Russia rather than fly to Havana because Cuba succumbed to US pressure to deny him entry. “I admire the courage and justice of Snowden’s statements with which he, in my opinion, provided a service to the world,” Castro wrote in an article published yesterday night on Cuban Internet portal Cubadebate. “What I do not agree with is that anyone, regardless of his credentials, spoke on behalf of Cuba.”

The Russian daily Kommersant reported on Monday, citing sources, that Cuba, under pressure from the US, would have denied landing to a Moscow-Havana flight if Snowden were on board.

Dismissing the report as a lie, Castro went on to say that the US “always tries to pressure the United Nations, other governments and private organisations around the world.” Cuba, he said, having resisted America for 54 years, remains ready to resist “as long as it takes.”

Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency, is wanted by the US on espionage and other charges after he gave journalists classified documents detailing the NSA’s far-reaching electronic and telephone surveillance programmes.

Snowden flew to Russia from Hong Kong on June 23.

There was speculation he would continue on to Cuba after reports claimed that a seat on a Moscow flight to Havana was reserved in his name, but Snowden never boarded the flight.

He was granted temporary asylum in Russia in early August, despite repeated demands from Washington for Moscow to return him to the US.

Meanwhile, Cuba has criticised “any attempt to undermine the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria and called for a political solution to the crisis in that country.

A foreign ministry release yesterday said it considered “alarming the recent pronouncements of the US government and several Nato allies urging military actions in Syria, ignoring the efforts of some states to reach a political solution to the conflict bleeding that Arabian nation”.

It warned, “an aggression against Syria would cause serious consequences for the troubled region of the Middle East, and would be a flagrant violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, besides increasing the threats to peace and international security”.

“It is necessary to remember that those who advocate today military action against Syria are the same who launched bloody wars without a mandate of the United Nations Security Council under the deliberate lies on the existence of mass destruction weapons or on the pretext of protecting civilians,” the release said.

The ministry said the call to attack Syria came “precisely when its government has authorised the United Nations research mission on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country, which has already began working on the ground”.

“The information on the Syrian crisis is fragmented, imprecise and frequently subjected to manipulation”, the release said.

Cuba ratified its condemnation of the use of chemical and other mass destruction weapons, and recalled its commitment with the international Convention on the Prohibition of Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use and Destruction of Chemical Weapons.

Reports by the international media cited the international mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, saying in Geneva yesterday that any military intervention against the government of Damascus would require the authorisation of the UN Security Council.

— RIA Novosti/Xinhua.

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